Sicily travel tips

The south of Italy - especially Sicily - has long been on our list. Dream beaches with crystal clear water, stable weather until late autumn and fantastic food.
La dolce Vita - but one after the other. Here are our Sicily travel tips.

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Sizilien reisetipps

Arrival and car rental - Sicily travel tips

Since Sicily is an island and there is no bridge, the journey is either by plane or by ship. We flew from Munich to Catania. The flight takes just under two hours. In addition to Catania, there are also international airports in Palermo and Comiso as well as some smaller regional airports.

As an alternative to arriving by plane, you can also take the ferry to the island of Sicily. There are ferry connections from every major port city on the west side of boot-shaped Italy - Salerno, Naples, Rome, Livorno, Genoa, but there are also connections to and from Sardinia, Nice, Toulon or Tunis. Of course, you can also take your car with you on the ferries, so that you are mobile in Sicily.

But since we came by plane, we took a rental car at Catania airport. As always, we booked the rental car in advance via Check24.There we always get the best prices by comparing and finding the right insurance model.

The queue at the "Italy Rent a Car" rental booth was quite long.
We were lucky because we were the only customers at our renting company Noleggiare and could walk past the long line and quickly had our car. The two renters have their stands in the same house and the queue went far out of the house. It was only by chance that we discovered that not a single customer was waiting for our renter.

Entry during Covid-19

Already on the plane we had to fill out a self-assessment, which was then collected by the flight crew. A temperature check was carried out at the airport using a thermal scanner.
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On the road - Sicily travel tips

As I said, we were traveling by car and have to tell you that driving was really relaxed. Of course, you have to adapt a little, because the traffic rules are not observed as unconditionally as with us. If there is a small gap in traffic, Italiens will use it. Everyone knows this and everyone is prepared for it. The traffic flow is also quite good as a result.
Most of the roads are in a relatively poor condition but still passable without any problems. But there are always annoying and completely excessive speed limits. Main roads are often limited to 50 km per hour, which the locals don't really care about. On the highway^ from Catania to Palermo, along the coast, tolls are always due. In other parts of the islands you don't have to pay anything on the highways. This may be regulated differently from province to province.

What surprised us the most in a negative way, is the huge rubbish problem that Sicily has. Garbage bags pile up meters high on many streets and parking lots. We were given various theories as reason: Full landfills, no waste incineration, but there was also talk of the garbage mafia. We couldn't figure that out for good. If you know more, please tell us.

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Sizilien reisetipps

ATMs, money and tip

In Italy you pay with Euros. Since we mostly stayed in less touristy places, we always had cash with us. The easiest way to find an ATM is to search on Google Maps. That shouldn't pose a problem. You can usually get cash without any problems. Payment by card also worked almost everywhere.

In Italy there is a specialty with restaurants. You always pay the so-called coperto - the cover charge. In simple restaurants this is usually two euros per person. In more expensive restaurants this is often up to six euros. That has always been the case in Italy. In our opinion, there is no equivalent for this amount.

ACTIVITIES, SIGHTS AND HIGHLIGHTS

Catania Province

The absolute highlight in the province of Catania or in the whole of Sicily is the Etna volcano. We decided on a five-hour hike with the Touroperator Guide Vulcanologiche Etna Nord [ad]. We'd be happy to tell you more about that.

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Etna Sud Hike - Sicily travel tips

In the south of Mount Etna at the Refugio Sapienza we met our guide at 8:30 a.m. We had hiking boots, long clothes, sandwiches and our camera with us. We received helmets and hiking sticks from the tour operator (we could have borrowed shoes). You can reach the Refugio Sapienza by car along a beautiful panoramic route. The vegetation with the many yellow flowering shrubs and the view of Mount Etna is simply breathtaking. Once at the top, there are plenty of parking spaces, souvenir shops and restaurants. A parking attendant will help you to find a free parking space for a voluntary donation.

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Sizilien reisetipps

From there, the cable car goes up from 1,900 meters to 2,400 meters. Once there, we changed the means of transport again. The 4WD truck takes you to 2,900 meters. You have to pay 50 Euros for the cable car and the truck. When you arrive at the mountain station of the truck route, you finally have an unrestricted view of Mount Etna. After a short briefing, we walked the last 400 meters of altitude to the summit craters. Crossing the most recent lava flows from August 2019 and the black lava desert, we slowly but steadily gained altitude.
At a certain point we had to put on our helmets because the risk of falling rocks increases the closer we got to the active craters. If the altitude wasn't enough, the weather also turned crazy. It started to rain and snow and we were very happy with our long clothes. 

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But after a few minutes the sun came out again and we had reached our first goal of the day - the Crater Bocca Nuova. Yellow, red, green, the crater shines in all colors. Imagine that. It smells like sulfur and the volcano growls ominously all the time. Paradise for a photographer.

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Sizilien reisetipps

On the way down, we passed another crater from which white smoke rose continuously. The situation changed quickly and the crater showed more and more activity. With a loud thunder, the crater spat black smoke and hurled large boulders from its mouth. That was one of the most spectacular moments we have ever experienced. We have already seen several spectacular volcanoes - Costa Rica, Indonesia, Hawaii. You don't have to fly that far to see a truly spectacular volcano. We then took a lunch break at the foot of the crater and then descended past various smaller craters to the cable car station at 2,400 meters. Nikos, our guide, kept telling us interesting facts about Etna during the tour. What a day. The ascent is not a Sunday´s walk - but quite feasible for a normally trained person. It was definitely our highlight in Sicily.

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Sizilien reisetipps

Accommodation and restaurants

We decided to stay in Santa Venerina - near Mount Etna. Santa Venerina is a small village with few tourists. The Kepos Etna Relais is quite expensive. The location is really great with a view of sea and smoking Mount Etna in the back.

We ate very well in “I Russo” restaurant. We can highly recommend the starter platter with very tasty Sicilian starters such as arancini.

We also liked the Antica Pizzeria Napoletana with large and creative pizzas. The outside area of ​​the restaurant is unfortunately right on the street. The quality of the food and the cheap and good house wine (0.5l / 4 €; 1.0l / 7 €) make up for everything.

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Sizilien reisetipps

Food and Co.

There are several small butcher shops and supermarkets in town. All are closed in the afternoon. Shortly after noon we met a nice dealer who kept his shop open for us.

PROVINCE OF TRAPANI

From Santa Venerina we went to the beautiful coastal province of Trapani with its natural highlights. You have to allow for a three to four hour drive from Catania.

Our plan was to visit the beautiful nature reserves in the area. Unfortunately, all of them - Zingaro because of fire and Monte Cofano because of the risk of falling rocks - were closed. Unfortunately, the information on the Internet is not too up-to-date, so that we took the long journeys in vain and only found out about the closure on site. Nevertheless, we would like to report on our highlights during the trip.

Cofano Nature Reserve - Sicily Travel Tips

The starting point for this nature reserve is the town of Cornino. There you will find sufficient parking space at reasonable prices (8 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.: 1 €; all day: 2 €) Normally the Nature Reserve costs admission, but most of it was closed because of the danger of falling rocks, so we could only walk a very small part. That was then possible without paying admission. After our short hike, we enjoyed the crystal clear water of the rocky bays. Until recently, you could hike the entire route around Monte Cofano. We don't know whether this will be possible again in the future. The danger of falling rocks doesn't go away by itself.

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Sizilien reisetipps

Just before entering the Nature Reserve, find the “Lo Scivolo di Cornino” bar, where you can enjoy delicious cocktails for around five euros. Right next to the bar there is a large wooden platform on which you can sunbathe comfortably and bathe in the sea. There were relatively few people there during our visit.

Macari Beach - Sicily travel tips

This beach is located on the other side of Monte Cofano and is completely natural. There is still a guy renting out lay beds. The parking lot is free of charge and even bathing items (e.g. air mattresses, sun hats, etc.) and snacks (panini, cold drinks, etc.) are sold. Despite the sandy beach, the water is crystal clear and invites you to splash around.

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San Vito Lo Capo

In San Vito Lo Capo there is a beach that is often associated with the Caribbean. But we felt differently. Sure, the sandy beach is wide and white, but completely paved with beach chairs. Despite Corona, it is teeming with people here. That wasn't our thing. In general, we found the place very touristy with countless ice cream parlors, souvenir stalls and restaurants. Finding a free parking space is relatively difficult and, at one euro per hour, not a bargain if you want to stay longer.

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Sizilien reisetipps

Alcamo and our accommodation - Sicily travel tips

For 3 nights, beautiful Baglio Passofondo was our accommodation in the province of Trapani. It is outside the town of Alcamo and is surrounded by vineyards. We had a really wonderful time here. Our Sicily travel tip!

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Sizilien reisetipps
Sizilien reisetipps

The weekly market in Alcamo (location: Via Vito La Rocca) takes place on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There are 150 stalls selling clothes, housewares, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fresh fish, and cheese. There are free and paid parking spaces in the city. The place is about 15 minutes from the famous coastal town of Castellamare del Golfo.

If you are looking for an authentic pizzeria, we have the following Sicily travel tip for you: The Pizzeria Ristorante Rustic in Castellamare not only has delicious pizzas, but also delicious pasta. The Busiata Norma are highly recommended. The prices of the house wine are also impressively cheap.

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Sizilien reisetipps
Sizilien reisetipps

Agrigento Province

The province of Agrigento is located in the south of Sicily and is known, among other things, for the cultivation of oranges.

Scala dei Turchi

One of the most famous sights in Sicily is the Scala dei Turchi, a natural rock formation on the coast that drops into the sea like a huge white staircase. It used to be possible to enter the Scala dei Turchi, but at the time of our trip in September 2020 it was closed due to the risk of falling rocks. Many visitors ignored the prohibition signs and still climbed the Scala die Turchi.
Access to the beach is free. There are many nice beach bars and restaurants, all of which have their own access from the street down to the beach.
There is free parking at the roadside. Once they are occupied, there is more parking space for five euros per day.
However, we think that in non-Covid times, there should be a lot of people here. The Scala dei Turchi is really a beauty. The beach itself is nothing special.

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Sizilien reisetipps

Valle dei Templi

The Valle dei Templi complex stretches between Agrigento and the coast. We visited the temples of Juno, Concordia and Hercules at sunset. It is really impressive and beautiful when the Valley of the Temples glows in the colors of the evening red. We thought it was nice to stroll through the park, but we would have hoped for more information about the history. Usually you only learn something about the architecture of the ruins. We should have booked a guide.
At the entrance to the temple you have to undergo a metal detector check.
The following costs could occur to you depending: entrance fee per person € 12, parking space per car € 3, shuttle bus between the temples (if necessary) € 3 per person.

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Conclusion

The highlight of our trip to Sicily and our absolute Sicily travel tip was definitely the ascent of the Etna volcano.
What made us enjoy Sicily a bit less, was the amount of rubbish on the streets and the fact that many of our planned highlights were closed due to natural events and many restaurants were closed due to the absence of tourists (Covid-19). So we could not experience the Dolce Vita quite as we imagined.

Have a look at our Rome city trip tips .

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